"We want to address any rumors regarding Bruno Sammartino and his current health situation. If you have read Bruno's Auto Biography you are aware that he had Rheumatic Fever as a child that caused damage to the valves in his heart. He was very sick for three plus years and came very close to dying as a child.. It clearly didn't affect him for many years he grew strong and had great stamina in the ring. It was recently discovered that the valves had detriorated and had to be replaced immediately. He has had the surgery and began a rehabilitation process that should last around three months. I have been told that Bruno's doctor's expect a full recovery and he should have the heart of a forty year old man when the rehab is complete."
Acute rheumatic fever is a delayed complication of a Group A Streptococcal infection involving the tonsils/pharynx. Features of the initial bacterial infection include the sudden onset of sore throat, pus on the tonsils, tender lymph nodes in the neck, and fever. Cough and significant nasal drainage are usually absent. The infection is commonly referred to as "strep throat". Prompt recognition of the infection and treatment with appropriate antibiotics are important. Timely therapy has been shown to reduce the duration of the illness, prevent transmission to others, and decrease the likelihood of developing delayed complications including rheumatic fever. (1, 2) Some of the potential complications of Group A Streptococcal infection are listed in Table 1.
- Acute rheumatic fever
- Scarlet fever
- Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome
- Acute glomerulonephritis
- PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder associated with group A Streptococci)
Acute rheumatic fever typically occurs 2 to 4 weeks after the Group A Streptococcal infection. It most commonly develops in children ages 5 to 15 years old. It is rare to see in younger children and adults. A major manifestation of acute rheumatic fever is a severe inflammation of the heart. This can involve all components of the heart including the muscle, valves, and sac that surrounds the heart (pericardium). The major and minor manifestations of rheumatic fever are listed in Table 2. (3)
- Migratory arthritis (predominantly involving the large joints)
- Carditis and valvulitis (eg, pancarditis)
- Central nervous system involvement (eg, Sydenham chorea)
- Erythema marginatum
- Subcutaneous nodules
- Elevated acute phase reactants [erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), C-reactive protein (CRP)]
- Prolonged PR interval on the EKG
Rheumatic heart disease is the most severe complication of acute rheumatic fever. It usually occurs 10 to 20 years after the original illness. The mitral valve is more commonly involved than the aortic valve. Mitral stenosis, caused by severe calcification of the mitral valve, is the classic finding in rheumatic heart disease. As the valve disease progresses a person can experience a wide variety of problems including shortness of breath, exercise intolerance, and even congestive heart failure. Once the valve disease is moderate to severe surgery is usually required.
Specific details about Sammartino's health have not been released. It is unknown how long he was having symptoms, and what valve was involved.
- J Pediatr. 1985;106(6):870.
- J Pediatr. 1978;92(2):325.
- JAMA. 1992;268(15):2069.
The medical resource www.uptodate.com was used in the preparation of this blog. Photographs are for illustrative purposes only. Wrestling with Death does not claim ownership.